Saturday, May 15, 2010

First Grade Nature Walk

Yesterday was our first field trip of the year in first grade. (We get two a year, and we saved them for spring- to enjoy the nature center and then, next week, we get to experience Knuffle Bunny, The Musical. I am SO excited).

I positioned myself with the Story Teller, selfishly because I knew I'd personally enjoy the field trip more if I was able to hear his commentary throughout the event. And of course, he didn't disappoint-

The minute he saw he me said in a flat, serious voice, "Hello, Mrs. Lipstick, I am no longer The Story Teller. You can call me..." (dramatic pause) "Dr. Cockroach".

As we walked outside to the bus he noticed a police car sitting in front of our school. He shook his fist. "I don't like those police interrupting our field trips!"

On the bus ride he turned around in his seat and yelled, "Quiet down children, it's a bit loud in here." Then he looked at me sheepishly, and said, "Oh, sorry, that's right- you're the teacher."

We arrived at the nature center and walked down the path, passing a man gardening.
"Wow, good garnering there"

On the way out he attached himself to another friend's little brother who'd joined us on the trip. "Say Godzilla" he demanded, and the 4 year old buried his head into his brother's back, partly because he was shy, partly because he had an older boy barking words at him, and partly because the poor little one only spoke Russian.
"Say T-Rex"
"Say Monster Truck"
After a pause the Story Teller looked at me and said, "Nope, he can't talk at all. This one has no words."

And of course, throughout the walk, he turned into a T-Rex, pulling his hands in front of his body and making dino-like growls as he marched through the woods, clearly in his own imaginary world, not worrying that the rest of us were even around him.

Because The Story Teller spent 2 years in kindergarten this was my 5th field trip with him. How am I suppose to go on field trips next year without him? I'll be so bored! Maybe he should do another year in first grade just to keep me entertained.

Along with The Story Teller I was stayed close to another friend, whose statements of the obvious are always very similar to The Story Teller. I adore this child in all his earnest impulsively. This is the little one, who after hearing the read-aloud Tikki-Tikki-Tembo raised his hand and gave a long talk about how when he was living in Afghanistan, where they didn't have any electricity, and had to go over mountains on a donkey to get water, someone fell down the well and had to be rescued. At the end of his monologue he scrunched up his face and said, "I think it was me."
"You think it was you?"
"Well, yeah, I was a baby, so I don't know, but my parents told me, it was me. I was down there for a long time and they were scared because they couldn't get me out. But I only think it was me- I don't know."

Hmmmm. That could explain a lot...

We walked through the woods- the Story Teller on one side of me darting his eyes around feverishly like T-Rex, looking for small dinos to eat. My other friend elbows me, as though we're high schoolers. "Psst" he whispers, "look out for the snipers".
"Friend, there are no snipers here, this is a safe forest" I say.
"No, shhhh.... this is where they hide so no one sees them." he argues, and moves one eye brow up and down rapidly, as though he's delivering some sort of flirtatious information instead of telling me to fear for my life.

The rest of the trip went on in the same manner. Time after time he'd elbow me and then whisper some sort of misinformation, followed with the eyebrows. Sometimes he'd just repeat what the guide said, as though I myself hadn't heard. I started to feel like I was being hit on by a 7 year old.

After the guide talked to us for awhile about tadpoles and repeatedly answered the same question over and over again, ("Yes, those are going to be frogs. Yes, frogs. Frogs- yep, that's what I said already") it was obvious he'd reached his limit with first grade questions.

Eyebrows raised his hand. "Did you know," he asked our guide, "I have bed bugs at my home."
The guide, clearly fed up with us and our off-topic responses, merely said, "Oh, cool" and called on the next friend. I felt an elbow tapping me.
"Hey," he whispered, "I just told him I have bed bugs, and he said COOL. It is NOT COOL. It is NOT!" he whispered indigently.
"We can't get rid of them. They are everywhere. And I vacuum every day. And the apartment people keep leaving us notes telling us to be clean, but I think they lie because WE ARE CLEAN and the bugs still wont go away. They are still there. We can't sit on our couch, or our carpet. And we have cockroaches too. The apartment people spray for them, but they never go away either." He shook his head, clearly not impressed with our guide who seemed to be embracing the very nature that was driving his family crazy.

I couldn't think, at that moment, how to separate the nature we were learning about with the nature in his house. Nor could I shake the idea that while I've been desperately trying to get us to meet the end of year benchmark in reading, his family's been dealing with that mess, all the while making sure he does his homework every night in between scrubbing their house for the bugs they can't get rid of.

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